Parenting is one of those sacred things in life that gives God the ultimate opportunity to answer prayers like “humble me” and all those dumb prayers I think are good to pray.
Flying with young children is the ultimate opportunity to flush out all parenting pride in one single moment. Yesterday as I tried explaining to my five year old that he wouldn’t enjoy the sweet habanero popcorn he had grabbed from the food cart in the middle of the airport, I overheard a man from behind the cash register yelling at someone to stop opening a package of food. To my dismay, I realized that someone was my three year old son, who was in fact, tearing open a bag of very expensive dried apricots. I threw the almost-opened bag on the counter along with my other hurried choices, sure that if my face wasn’t already sun-burned it would be showing an impressively bright mortified shade of red at that moment.
Traveling with kids is never usually enjoyable but I think that doing said travel in front of thousands of people- like in airports and airplanes- turns up the heat to a boiling point almost immediately. It doesn’t help that I’ve long since loved airports for the people watching, thus I know that’s what people do. People with children provide those people watchers with plenty of entertainment. Alas. I used to love flying…anywhere. While there were a few high moments on our most recent trip across the country- such as standing in line to go thru security and enduring the woman’s glare behind us as she stared angrily at the thought of waiting for three tiny children and all their stuff to go through only to get a compliment from that same lady on the other side admitting she was impressed at how fast we slid through the line. Hmm. Or that time we didn’t have seats altogether so we had to ask a cranky lady if she wouldn’t mind switching with us (which she agreed to only after protest) and then complained again that we had the audacity to sit one of our children next to her (even tho it was the most well behaved one) …the high point being at the end of the six hour flight when she admitted we were right when we said ‘he would be good’. Oh, did I mention she worked for the airline we were flying? Hmm.
But mostly the low points overflowed. Even when everything goes according to plan, plane rides with small children just aren’t easy. I think it has to do with the fact that at any moment something can go wrong and there isn’t always a solution. We brought a carseat on for Maya (stellar amazing game changer) except that her feet could touch the seat in front of her, so I had to literally hold her legs down or strong arm her legs into the air…for almost an hour. She also threw up 3 times on the six hour flight and I only brought one change of clothes for her (that I never actually ended up changing- have you ever tried doing anything in airplane bathrooms? I avoid them unless it’s a major poop blow out, hence why my poor daughter was soaking wet on a different plane ride/same trip- oops.)
My favorite *note the sarcasm* parts were when we spent time at the departure gates waiting to board. Nothing makes you feel more despised than the looks people give as they watch your children slowly spin out of control. You know they are thinking and hoping and praying they won’t be seated next to your hooligans. But it’s a delicate balance to handle in those moments because I don’t want to force them to sit when they are required to sit for the next 6 hours…that’s where airport exercises come in. Quite literally I had a session with the boys that included hundreds of jumping jacks, jumps, skips, etc. Their energy spike may have been due to the fact that I gave them lemonade stupidly…or because when we boarded our plane it was their bedtime. Hmm.
I was kicking myself for our decision to fly in the evening on the way out, but when I set my alarm for 3:45am for our flight back home I realized the beauty of evening flying. I am not sure which is worse. Plus, time changes are a bear, no matter which way it goes.
It’s amazing how perspective changes from the beginning of the trip to the end. There’s only so much discipline that can be done without resulting in tears…most of which we try to avoid in public, because it’s usually accompanied by loud sad noises. But on the way home, I did not care if my child was screaming loudly…it was worth it for him to know he was wrong. He might hate elevators since they provided a private moment for correction- although I think that child didn’t like elevators to begin with. Literally the first one we rode he was so petrified that he crawled across the opening to get inside (we were carrying three suitcases and a stroller between us so he was relegated to holding his brother’s hand- not so comforting)…sad and cute but you’d think riding in many would allow him to see the truth- hmm.
Occasionally I meet people who have never ridden on airplanes with their children and I’m slightly envious. Why did I choose to live thousands of miles from my family? Why is an airplane the only means of transportation? Teleporting. I want that. But then I remember that I love my family and I’m so grateful that we have the finances and means to see them as often as we do. All the insanity is worth it because of every minute I get to be with them. And somehow each time we book another flight I have forgotten the most painful parts of the previous travel and can only feel the ache in my heart of wanting to see my people. Plus I repeat ‘this is only a season’ about a billion times and dream about the future when all our kids will be diaperless and old enough to chill in confined spaces for long periods of time…and to our kiddos credit, they actually do fly quite well, all things considered.
We spent a week in one of the most beautiful places- Cannon Beach, Oregon. It’s a place that feels like home to me. We made memories and enjoyed one another a lot. I can’t ask for anything more. Until next time…